Using computers

This page contains training resources if you need to be able to help blind and partially sighted people use computers in your library.

Assistive technology

Assistive technology (also know as 'access technology' or 'adaptive technology')is specialist technology that enables someone with a disability to access information or mainstream technology independently. For using a computer the most commonly used forms assistive technology are 'screen readers' and 'screen magnifiers'.


A screen reader takes information from a computer or mobile phone screen and speaks it with a synthetic voice or displays it on a refreshable braille display. This means you don't have to be able to see that computer or mobile phone screen to use it.

A screen magnifier can magnify everything on a computer or mobile phone screen. This results in only part of the original screen image being visible, but a magnifier can follow the point of interest identified by the mouse or cursor, or finger on a touch screen device.

You can find out more from RNIB's Beginner's guide to assistive technology

Access technology distance learning guide

This guide provides a broad overview of the technology and software available for blind and partially sighted computer users. It is intended as a training document, to be read in stages and explored in an informal way.

Using ZoomText

There are ZoomText resources at the AI Squared website, containing: manuals, quick reference guides and video tutorials to help with ZoomText magnification and screen reading software.

Guide to using JAWS and MAGic

The JAWS and MAGic guide at the Freedom Scientific website, explains how to use JAWS screen reading software and MAGic screen magnification software. This software can be used by blind and partially sighted people to read and navigate the internet.

NVDA keystrokes

This guide lists NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) keystrokes for use with a Windows Microsoft computer. It explains key combinations which allow users to achieve functions without the use of a mouse.